Home equity has been a hot topic in real estate news lately. And if you’ve been following along, you may have heard there’s a growing number of homeowners with negative equity. But don’t let those headlines scare you. In truth, the headlines don’t give you all the information you really need to understand what’s happening and at what scale. Let’s break down one of the big equity stories you may be seeing in the news, and what’s actually taking place. That way, you’ll have the context you need to understand the big picture.
Headlines Focus on Short-Term Equity Numbers and Fail To Convey the Long-Term View
One piece of news circulating focuses on the percentage of homes purchased in 2022 that are currently underwater. The term underwater refers to a scenario where the homeowner owes more on the loan than the house is worth. This was a huge issue when the housing market crashed in 2008, but it much less significant today. Media coverage right now is based loosely on a report from Black Knight, Inc. The actual report from that source says this:
“Of all homes purchased with a mortgage in 2022, 8% are now at least marginally underwater and nearly 40% have less than 10% equity stakes in their home, . . .”
Let’s unpack that for a moment and provide the bigger picture. The data-bound report from Black Knight is talking specifically about homes purchased in 2022, but media headlines don’t always mention that timeframe or provide the surrounding context about how unusual of a year 2022 was for the housing market. In 2022, home price appreciation soared, and it reached its max around March-April. Since then, the rate of appreciation has been slowing down. Homeowners who bought their house last year right at the peak or those who paid more than market value in the months that followed are more likely to fall into the category of being marginally underwater. The qualifier marginally is another key piece of the puzzle the media isn’t necessarily including in their coverage. So, what does that mean for those who purchased a home in 2022? It’s important to remember, owning a home is a long-term investment, not a short-term play. When headlines focus on the short-term view, they’re not necessarily providing the full context. Typically speaking, the longer you stay in your home, the more equity you gain as you pay down your loan and as home prices appreciate. With recent market conditions, you may not have gained significant equity right away if you owned the home for just a few months. But it’s also true that many homeowners who recently bought their house are unlikely to be looking to sell quite yet.
As with everything, knowing the context is important. If you have questions about real estate headlines or about how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect.
- If you’re planning to buy a home in 2023, here are a few things to focus on.
- Work on your credit and save for a down payment. If saving feels like a challenge, there’s help available. Then, get pre-approved, create a list of desired features, and prioritize them.
- Reach out to a real estate professional so you have expert advice on how to reach your homebuying goals this year.
A great way to ease some of those emotions and ensure you’re feeling confident in your decision is to keep these three best practices in mind.
1. Price Your Home Right
The housing market shifted in 2022 as mortgage rates rose, buyer demand eased, and the number of homes for sale grew. As a seller, you’ll want to recognize things are different now and price your house appropriately based on where the market is today. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:
“Price your home realistically. This isn’t the housing market of April or May, so buyer traffic will be substantially slower, but appropriately priced homes are still selling quickly.”
If you price your house too high, you run the risk of deterring buyers. And if you go too low, you’re leaving money on the table. An experienced real estate agent can help determine what your ideal asking price should be.
2. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Today, homeowners are living in their houses longer. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since 1985, the average time a homeowner has owned their home has increased from 5 to 10 years (see graph below):
This is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your loved ones grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.
For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate and separate the emotional value of the house from fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations along the way.
3. Stage Your Home Properly
While you may love your decor and how you’ve customized your home over the years, not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you focus on your home’s first impression so it appeals to as many buyers as possible. As NAR says:
“Staging is the art of preparing a home to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers in your market. The right arrangements can move you into a higher price-point and help buyers fall in love the moment they walk through the door.”
Buyers want to envision themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your house ready to sell.
If you’re considering selling your house, reach out to a local real estate professional to help you navigate through the process while prioritizing these best practices.